No arrests had been made as of late Tuesday and the investigation was ongoing, police said.
The limo driver, Victor "Ricky" Burnham, 53, of 130-54 231st St., had gone to the Gulf Gas Station at Merrick Boulevard and 220th Street because his personal car, a white Honda, was leaking oil, said station mechanic Winston Thomas.
As Thomas and Burnham stood talking near a garage door, a man approached a 41-year-old attendant, whose name has not been released, as he pumped gas. The man then demanded the worker's money, Thomas said. The attendant, an immigrant from India, refused and began to struggle with the would-be robber.
"He was trying to save the money," Thomas said of the attendant. After trying to reach into the attendant's pocket, the suspect shot him once in the stomach, said the mechanic, who ran into the back of the garage and called police after hearing the gun go off.
But for some reason Burnham did not run, Thomas said, and the gunman came over and shot him once in the neck, police said.
Both victims were taken to Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica, where Burnham died, but the attendant was listed in stable condition, police said.
There was no information on whether the robber had gotten away with any money.
"It was cold-blooded," Thomas said of the shootings. As local residents passed the gas station, they said it was the first major crime that had occurred in the immediate area in a while. And the owner of the gas station, who declined to give his name, said of his 33 years at the same location "it's always been good."
Burnham's murder is the ninth of the year in the 105th Police Precinct, which as of May 30 had seen homicides jump 166 percent, from three to eight over the same time period the year before. The precinct, which stretches from Glen Oaks in the north and runs along the Nassau border to Brookville in the south, has deemed Merrick Boulevard a "shooting zone" and begun an initiative to crack down on crime on an unidentified stretch of the thoroughfare.
On Friday, Burnham's parents, Vendal Babb and Joyce Babb, sat in the 1 1/2-story house they shared with their son and tried to make sense of what had happened to Burnham, also known as Ricky because his middle name was Ricardo. The Babbs said their son normally checked in with them if he was going to be late, and when he had not called by bedtime last Thursday they became worried. A police officer gave them the bad news at 2 a.m. Friday.
Vendal Babb said he had heard from employees at the gas station that two men were involved in the incident, the shooter and a man driving the getaway car. But the mechanic at the station did not see the killer run off and police could not confirm Babb's account.
The Babbs came to the United States from Barbados when their son was 16. After school, Burnham took an assortment of odd jobs before getting work with Nice Guys Limo in Manhattan, his family said.
"He loved driving," said a cousin, Hamilton Burnham, who joined the Babbs at their house Friday. "He loved meeting people."
Burnham was also passionate about strumming his guitar and playing cricket, often traveling back to Barbados to watch matches.
His family described him as well-liked, friendly and polite.
"He would do anything for anybody," said his father, who last saw Burnham after his son took him to a Thursday morning doctor's appointment.
As they sat in their house Friday, the Babbs took calls from friends and relatives seeking to find out if the terrible news was true and began thinking about funeral arrangements. A viewing of Burnham's body was scheduled to take place at Roy. L. Gilmore's Funeral Home in St. Albans on Friday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. The service will be held Saturday at 9 a.m., followed by burial at Springfield Cemetery.
In addition to his mother, father and cousin, Burnham is survived by his ex-wife and their 24-year-old son.
"We're just taking it as it comes," Vendal Babb said. "I just hope they catch the two guys."
Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@times
©2004 Community News Group
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